violette volkskrant pauline marie niks 

Violette Geissen leads SPRINT, a large-scale European research project into the effects of pesticides on humans, animals, plants and the environment
Foto credits: Pauline Marie Niks - Volkskrant

Much is still unknown about the role of pesticides in agriculture and their relation to people and the environment. Wageningen professor Violette Geissen is leading a large-scale study. Could there be connection with diseases such as Parkinson's? 

Geissen, currently professor of soil degradation and land management at Wageningen University & Research, is leading Sprint, a large-scale European research project into the effects of pesticides on humans, animals, plants and the environment. There is still so much that we do not know, says the German-born professor. "Many questions have never been properly researched." 

"We have set up case studies in ten areas in Europe and one in Argentina, where soy is grown and processed into European animal feed. We will find out which pesticides do we encounter the most? What is in soil and what will we find in water? What about the biodiversity? What do we find in animal and human feces? From these results we conduct further research. We have questions based on scientific literature and we would like to find out more about it. We have five years to do all this."

"The role of the government is crucial. It should ensure that farmers also benefit from it. It is important for farmers that they can rely on this. I think we need to adapt to a different way of thinking. Our agricultural policy is still a response to the hunger winter. Everything was aimed at higher production, because people had to eat. Pesticides provided more yield, so they were also used for that. We have to let go of that idea. We have new techniques at our disposal: we can use robotics for weed control and apply other cultivation methods such as crop diversification, creating a more robust agricultural system that requires less pesticides. I don't want to attack or sue anyone. We have to make that transition together, with the farmers, the companies and the NGOs. We need to think about where we want to go and how we build a sustainable food chain. We in Europe can take the lead and show the world that things can be done differently. "


Read the full (dutch) article here.